Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The Wide World of Solids

Vivian's days of nursing have been numbered.  The army has numbered them.  In a couple of months I'll be leaving for a mandatory three weeks of training, and she'll be staying behind with family.  At first I thought I'd just keep doing this whole pumping thing.  There was a time when I would have said that my unit was being really supportive of the whole soldier mom thing.  Unfortunately, that time has passed.  My baby girl is being weaned.  

The first day went pretty poorly.  There's nothing quite like starting off the day with your baby clinging to you sobbing because you won't feed her, and she's too little to understand why.  I mean obviously I tried feeding her a bottle.  It was rejected.  I tried the oatmeal cereal.  Also rejected.  Finally I managed to coerce her into eating some banana and nursed her.  That's pretty much the story of the last two days.  I approach with a bottle of formula, and she starts writhing around in front of me and squealing as though I'm approaching with an instrument of torture.  Actually the squealing has been eliminated because she's learned to not open her mouth to emit any noise lest I seize the opportunity to do something disgusting like try and actually place the bottle's nipple in her mouth.  If the bottle does come in contact with her mouth there's an immediate reaction of screaming like she's just been fed a caustic substance, and a renewed effort to thrash around so that the bottle is inevitably knocked free from her mouth and shoots formula all over both of us.  So much fun.  We tried having Justin give her a bottle.  Rejected.  We tried formula in her sippy cup.  Rejected.  In a regular glass.  Rejected.  She simply hates the stuff.  So, we're left with nothing to do but wean her to solids.  She's still not pleased with the idea of being given solids when she's clearly wanting to nurse, but it is going marginally better than my attempts at moving her to formula.  Here's some pictures I snapped from today's breakfast: 
For breakfast, clothes don't seem to be a great idea.  We go straight from the high chair to the tub.
I sometimes worry that she's not going to get enough to eat, but since she can effectively hide her diaper from view just by leaning over I figure we've still got some time before I need to really start worrying.  This is her craning over to see the food that she's just knocked onto the floor.
Trying to act like she doesn't see me offering a spoonful of oatmeal cereal.

This is the reaction to some pears I was trying to offer her as a reward for eating most of the oatmeal cereal.  She is a tiny bit dramatic.

She's not trying to retrieve those little bits of food, she's trying to sweep them to the floor.

Then she decided that breakfast was over.

Looks like from here on out she'll be wearing that 5-point harness.
This has not been the funnest thing that she or I have ever done, and I'm pretty sure that we both hate it equally, but thankfully outside of mealtime she seems to be relatively unaffected by this latest little transition.  She started walking a while back, and is content to cruise around the house creating messes, and happily chattering to herself everywhere she goes.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

A Black Disney Vacation

We just returned a few days ago from a vacation with my family to Disneyland.  The last time my family vacationed together was...I have no idea.  It's been too long.  Unfortunately, this vacation still wasn't quite complete.  Devon and his family, and Ethan weren't able to make it, and we missed you.  I, for one, hope that we do something like this again, and that next time everyone can be there.  That's really saying something since Justin and I were not at all thrilled about this trip.  The timing was off for us.  It came on the heels of Hawaii, we'd just been to Disneyland with Justin's family back in November, our kid is still too small to enjoy the experience, and Justin wasn't able to get his leave approved.  All the same, after many discussions we finally decided that we needed to go.  The opportunities to vacation with my family are just too sparse to pass this one up.  We bought a plane ticket for Justin to join me there mid-week, and booked a rental car for me to drive. 

It's inevitable with a vacation that isn't being headed up and planned by one party, and involves 14 different adults, that some drama will ensue.  It did.   There were all kinds of miscommunications, and in some cases just a lack of communication regarding everything from time share/hotel reservations to transportation issues.  None of it amounted to anything, and eventually all of these little issues got sorted out and the vacation was underway.  (I'll respect the rights of others to share their version of how this vacation went, so if you have something to add or correct in the comments, by all means, do so.)

Saturday afternoon Justin and I went out to pick up my rental car.  When we got the car we noticed that the trunk was really quite spacious.  We'd briefly toyed with the idea of camping on our way home from this vacation, and the trunk space seemed more than adequate. We asked to have an extra couple of days added to our reservation, and we rushed home.  Justin must have made a dozen trips out to the car packing up all of our camping equipment.  We barely had room for everything, but we successfully squished the last of our items into the trunk (actually, that's not true.  We had to pawn our stroller off on Meredith and Jake to transport for us since we weren't able to get it wedged in there with all of our other stuff) and drove our car and the rental to Orem for the night.  I had agreed to drive with my dad to California.  I gave him the choice between a late night arrival in Las Vegas, or an extremely early Sunday morning departure.  He chose Sunday morning and told me that "the morning hours are my time of the day.  I'll have no problem staying awake to keep you awake while you drive."  I told him that I would like to leave by 3:30am.  He was undeterred, and said that would be fine.  I woke up at 3am, Justin helped me load the groceries and such in the car.  Still no sign of Dad.  I woke up Vivian and changed her diaper, fed her, and had her strapped in the car seat.  Still no sign of Dad.  I finally went up to their bedroom to find out where he was at 3:40.  He was messing with his alarm system, which he reassured me would only take him another few minutes.  It was 3:45, I barked at him to get out in the car since the time for that had already passed and we were late.  My mom who was just finishing curling her hair (I wore the same outfit of sweat pants and t-shirt from the day before, and literally the only thing I did that morning to get ready was brush my teeth.  I didn't even bother reapplying deodorant, and she was up at 3am curling her hair...) reprimanded me for my rudeness, and then told him in politer tones to stop messing with the alarm and get ready.  The two items he said he was bringing with him in our car turned to four, but we were able to smash it all in there, and we left at 4am.  

Our drive to California was relatively uneventful.  My dad did forget to put his hearing aids in that morning, so all the way to Vegas I repeated most of my half of the conversation at shouting volume.  He put them in when we stopped for gas in Vegas.  I'm not sure they helped, it seemed like one of them was malfunctioning or something.  All the same, we managed, and although he mentioned several times that he was very tired, and feeling quite drowsy, he insisted on staying awake to monitor me.  I'm glad he did.  We arrived in Anaheim about an hour behind John and his family, and an hour ahead of Sarah and her's.  Meredith left hours after the rest of us.  I don't even know what time she finally got there. 

The goal in leaving so early was to make it through Vegas and beat the Sunday afternoon rush back to California.  Mission accomplished, but it also landed us in Anaheim several hours before check-in at the time share.  John's room was available early so fortuitously he had checked in and he sent Neal (who rode with them) out to the street curb in front of the restaurant where they were eating to hand off a room key.  We lounged around in their room for a while, letting Vivian crawl/walk laps around the room to celebrate her release from the car seat.  Eventually John and his group returned from the restaurant, just as Sarah and her's arrived, and the parent's room became available for check-in.  I spent the first night with Sarah and Jared's family at the Marengo household.  (I don't think they read this blog, but just in case, thank you for letting me crash for a night in your room while you were gone Shannon and Ricky!)  Sarah drove in with my mom in a rental car with two of her kids, and Jared and the rest of the kids were in a separate car.  Sarah needed to leave the rental car at the time share, and asked if she could cram herself, Winnie, and Fox in with me in my car.  No problem.  We evicted all of Dad's items, did a little shifting, shoving, rearranging, and were able to free up all the seats.  Unbeknownst to us, Jared had made plans with his family to attend an Easter dinner.  Great!  Kind of embarrassing when you're still wearing an outfit from the previous day, haven't so much as washed your face with a wet wipe, much less showered, and have little bits of crusty dough still clinging to the front of your t-shirt from yesterday's last minute bread baking.  The Hexberg's didn't seem to mind though, and the dinner was a welcome meal after a day of roadtrip snacks.  

We arrived at the Marengo household in the early evening, although after the 3am wake up, it felt like 10pm.  I was so tired that I spent some time just sitting on a chair in their family room watching Vivian attempt to destroy everything within in arm's reach.  Mercifully their home is already pretty childproof, so really the big chore was to just keep her from poking Fox in the eyes while he tried to nap.  (He fascinates her, so this is an ongoing task when they're together.)  I finally mustered up the energy to get us showered and off to bed after a little phone call home to Justin.  

The next morning we woke up early, and while I just have myself and Vivian to get ready, the Hexberg's had four to prepare.  Although, Rocky counts for like five when he's feeling willful, and he was feeling willful.  So for the most part Vivian and I spent our morning preparing for departure at a slow and steady pace, while chaos ensued with her cousins.  It sounds peaceful, almost relaxing doesn't it?  It wasn't, she had a massive blowout, had to be dragged away from Fox every time I turned her loose long enough to make her way back over to his bouncy chair, and made every effort to knock herself unconscious on their fireplace.  Still, I believe it to have been a blissful and relaxing morning compared to Sarah's.  As we were leaving to drive to the time share to meet up with the rest of the family, we received a phone call that everyone else was leaving for Disneyland, and "gee...hope that's not a problem."  It was.  We were laboring under the impression that no one was leaving for another hour.  The Partridges still had my stroller, and Sarah didn't have a key card to the parking structure.  My mom volunteered to stay behind with the stroller and a key card.  Sarah hadn't shifted her car seats out of my car into the family van yet, so we strapped Fox and Winnie in the back with Vivian, and set off for a fun-filled day at Disneyland.  Only the kids looked excited.  We pulled into the time share and started prepping strollers.  I took a minute to snap a couple shots of Vivian and Fox, sitting quietly in the backseat while the other hyped up kids danced around and did everything they could to create noise, ignore their parents, and delay departure.  

Lest anyone read this and think that I'm judging the Hexberg children, let me just state clearly, they're not poorly behaved children.  They are just children on their way to Disneyland.  At long last we met up with the rest of the family in the park and headed out to ride Splash Mountain. 

As horrified as Erica looks in this picture, she willingly got back in line right away for a second ride.

Round two looks marginally less terrifying.
After the second ride on Splash Mountain, we exited the ride to be greeted by this familiar face: 
Cousin RaChelle
A few of the cousins were there too.  We chatted for a few minutes, and then they went their separate ways, but always good to see them even if it is only a short visit!

After that I left Meredith sitting on that bench since Jill was sleeping and she didn't want to wake her, and I caught up with the others as they were exiting the Buzz Lightyear ride.  As tends to happen with large groups, there was a long period of deliberation before it was decided that we would all proceed to It's a Small World. 

The Partridges had lunch reservations, so they left for that and oddly enough I don't recall seeing them again for the rest of the day...and only briefly for the rest of the trip.  I'm not sure how we managed to miss each other.  It's a Small World was great because everyone, all the way down to the tiny Mr. Fox could ride, although he didn't seem to really love the experience.  After that we all tended to kind of splinter off into smaller groups for the rest of the day.  I spent most of the day with John's family. 

Vivian seems quite fond of her Uncle John.
Vivian and I ended up calling it a little early that night.  We went back to the time share for dinner, and after watching the thrilled excitement she experienced with the freedom from her stroller, I decided that we wouldn't be going back to the park that evening.  Instead I stayed behind and watched Coen and Creed while Michelle ran to the store and John returned to the park with his other two.  I teased Creed and made him cry.  It was kind of a low point for me.  John treated my baby like a little princess, and I made his son cry.  Aunt Julie is awesome!  At least he's still young, so these incidents seem to be quickly forgotten.  By the time Vivian and I got to bed that night my baby was exhausted.  
The next morning the others all went to California Adventure, but Vivian and I stayed behind.  Justin flew in that night, and we decided that it would best for us to take a break.  We also would have to leave so early to go meet Justin that it wasn't worth the money to pay for a short day.  I woke up early, Vivian was still asleep.  Hours later I woke her up to change her diaper.  She fell right back to sleep.  All of my plans for fun things we were going to do that day kind of went up in smoke.  Apparently the long road trip followed by a day at Disneyland had caught up with her.  I was grateful that we had that free day to give her a break, she obviously needed it.  She spent almost the entire day sleeping and eating.  We picked Justin up from the Long Beach airport that evening, and went straight to a McDonald's to use the free wi-fi so Justin could register for his classes (registration opened a few minutes before his flight landed).  His registration took a little while, and Vivian was completely energized from her day of rest and relaxation.  She spent the entire time at the restaurant showing off for the employees (which earned her a free plastic toy), and the other patrons.  During her jumping around, and mauling her Dad my cellphone got tossed onto a bench next to ours.  It stayed there after we left.  We drove all the way from Long Beach to Anaheim, and realized just as we were pulling into the timeshare parking lot that it was still back at the McDonald's.  So after another round trip to Long Beach to retrieve the phone we got to bed around midnight.  I was then doubly grateful that Vivian had been granted that day of R & R.

The next morning we got a slow start, but headed out to the San Diego Zoo with Andrew, Kate, and Mom and Dad.  Justin and I drove separately from the others.  The traffic was bad, the parking was worse.  We finally found a spot on the street, and although there were some curse words and a bit of a harsh exchange regarding my ability, or rather lack thereof to parallel park, we made it to the zoo.  Andrew and his car ended up parking some distance away.  The day was about what one would anticipate from a day at the zoo.  Lots of walking around looking at animals.   Kate and Andrew did their own thing for an hour or so while we took the bus tour.  After that we mostly stuck together.  Although my mom refused to set foot inside the reptile house, and my dad insisted on riding the sky tram solo since no one else was interested. Being there in the spring was nice since there were baby animals out, most notably a baby hippo. 

The next day everyone returned for the final day at Disneyland.  We all met in front of Sleeping Beauty's castle for a family picture, Andrew and Kate have the copies of that.  We spent most of the morning with the Hexberg's.  
The highlight of the day was perhaps the canoe ride.  Although Justin and I had to cut in line in front of at least twenty people to join in on this, only to be greeted by John who announced at the top of his lungs that he couldn't believe that we would shove our way in front of all those people waiting in line.  I didn't even look behind us to see if anyone had heard his announcement.  My dad did get wedged between the benches of the canoe partway through the ride, so I think it's fair to assume that it was not the highlight of his day.  

Part way around the lake they encouraged us to shout out to the people on shore about how much fun we were having.  I don't think anyone outside of our family made a peep.

I thought she would like the carousel.  She was mostly just interested in trying to eat the handles.
The next morning our vacation was over, and everyone said goodbye and started their trip back to Utah.  Justin and I have been really curious about getting a time share for ourselves, so we agreed to do their sales meeting.  We bit.  It took pretty much all day to finalize the paperwork, and by the time we left we decided that our camping trip would have to be sacrificed.  We stopped in Riverside to see Justin's grandpa, and then started home.  We were hoping to make it to St. George.  Vivian wasn't seeing it our way.  We ended up spending the night in a Best Western in Barstow that was half hotel, half trailer park.  Until this I didn't even know such a thing existed, but oddly and unexpectedly enough it turned out to be one of the nicest Best Western's we have visited.  

The next day on our trip home we detoured through Kolob Canyon for a brief look around.  We decided to go on a short hike, and then we thought better of it.  In a rare display of responsibility we determined that it was better to just get back on the road and get our baby home where she could enjoy a little freedom of movement.  She thanked us with squeals of delight, and huge smiles when we unleashed her from the car seat again several hours later.

We're glad we made this trip, and are hoping that it isn't too long before the next chance we get to vacation with my family.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Antelope Island

This last Saturday Justin and I planned a trip out to Antelope Island.  We considered going out there late last spring, but there was a warning on their website that "the biting gnats have hatched, and bug spray is not effective."  We decided to pass.  Justin had read elsewhere that early spring is the best time to go, so we figured this was our window.  I had been to the island once before, several years ago with the Hexberg's for the fall buffalo roundup, but we didn't really see much of the island on that outing.

Oddly enough, growing up in Utah I knew nothing of the island.  I had somehow managed to completely miss the fact that there was an island in the Great Salt Lake at all, much less one that is a state park with a causeway that allows you to just drive out there for a visit.  I was well into my adult years before this tidbit of information really hit.  I'd say that no one ever told me, but that's more than likely not true.

Additionally, this was my first visit to the Great Salt Lake.  Meredith works with a lot of people who are originally from back east.  She said something circulated around the office listing things that they had discovered about living in Utah when they first moved here.  One of the items on the list was that the Great Salt Lake is not a tourist destination.  The whole idea of it being a tourist destination was very amusing to us.  All the same, it seemed high time to go check the lake out for ourselves.  Our first stop on the island was at Bridger Bay Beach.
So, who knew that there was a white sand beach out there?
The walk out to the lake is not a short one.  The sand on this beach is super fine, the consistency of flour, which prevents it from being just an easy stroll out to the shoreline.
We stopped about halfway there for some pictures in a patch of Foxgloves.
When we did get to the water though, I thought it was very pretty. 
Vivian and I on a sandbar.

Although, I knew that the lake itself is very shallow, I was still a little surprised at how shallow the water was along the shoreline.  We stood around out there for a while, and then I decided that I can't just come visit the lake, I would need to get in the water as well.  It was unbelievably warm, so I actually kind of wish that I'd had a swimsuit with me so I could have just jumped in and swam, but I had to settle for wading.  Justin refused to join me since he deemed the water to be too disgusting to venture in.  He remained on the safely on the shore snapping pictures instead. 
I went pretty far out, and the water was still just barely to my ankles.
Should I ever return, I will come prepared to swim.  Justin will probably still stay on the shore with the camera, and he will miss out.  

After that we trudged the long walk back to the car and continued on to a little place called Buffalo Point.  The scenery up there was fantastic.

There was a guy out there flying a kite.  This has to be the best place ever to fly one.  No telephone poles, tons of wind.

We even spotted a few little bison off in the distance and determined to make our way over to them for a closer look.  On our way back down to the car the sun was starting to lower, and we noticed little swarms of gnats.  At first we didn't make the connection.  Not until we observed them chewing up our baby did we realize that these are the "biting gnats."  Fortunately their bites do not itch.  They just leave a little red mark, kind of like a welt.  We all got bit, even Justin who is always endlessly bragging about his immunity to mosquito bites.  Really the gnat bites weren't such a big deal, the fact that they dive bomb straight into your face, and you feel like your snorting up large numbers of them as you breathe is the bigger issue.  We welcomed the safe confines and filtered air of our vehicle. 

Next we made our way over to see the buffalo that we'd spotted from Buffalo Point.

After that we figured it was time to go check out the other side of the island.  We didn't make it very far on the road that wraps around the other side before we stopped again to snap some pictures of a few more buffalo that were right next to the road. 

Vivian found the buffalo to be only mildly interesting.
I'm not sure why, but Justin and I find buffalo to be very interesting animals.  We spent a long time there watching them graze.  We finally loaded back into the car, drove the length of the paved road, and decided to turn back when it turned to dirt.  The only thing further out were trailheads, and it was far too late to do any of the long hikes.  We have determined that next time we have a weekend in town and nothing to do we might come back out to the island and do some hiking (and I will swim), but the reports we'd heard before about it being a very "buggy" place seem to have a ring of legitimacy to them after our encounter with the clouds of biting gnats.